Tomorrow last day to sign up for Maui pukaball tourney

They call it pickleball on the Mainland, and it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world

Sharina Asato Husted and Patrick Holland practice their pukaball strategy and moves. -- TODD KAWASAKI photo

When Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard grabbed a couple of ping-pong paddles to volley an old, perforated plastic ball after playing golf on a lazy summer’s day in 1965, little did he know his post-round distraction would eventually blossom into one of the fastest-growing sports in the country — and beyond.

Over the last decade, pickleball — or pukaball (named for the holes in the ball used for the sport) as its called on island — has exploded in popularity, with the number of pickleball facilities more than doubling since 2010.  

If you’re not among the reported 2.8 million pickleball players in the United States, here’s the lowdown: Imagine mini-tennis of sorts, albeit with substantially different rules and scoring methods, implementing a plastic ball similar to a Wiffle ball where only underhand serves are allowed.

The playing area is 20 feet by 44 feet with a low net in the middle and often set up on existing tennis courts if dedicated pickleball courts are not available. Similar to tennis, there’s both doubles and singles play, however a game is over at 11 points (winning by two points) and only the serving side scores.

On Maui, pukaball has been steadily gaining converts who play on public tennis courts, in private yards and at clubs that are embracing the sport by creating dedicated pukaball play areas.

As a testament to the hard work promoting pukaball by Mike Hoxie (tournament director), Maui pickleball ambassador Laurie Loney and others, the island will have its first official tournament and attendant clinics this month.

The Maui Pukaball Tournament and Clinics, by Pickleball Maui, will be held Thursday through Dec.10 at Wailea Tennis Club. The deadline for registering has been extended to tomorrow at midnight. The entry fee for the round-robin format tournament is $75 for Hawaii residents, $90 for all others. Women’s doubles will take place Friday, mixed doubles Saturday and men’s doubles next Sunday.

Pickleball and tennis pro Lisa Naumu will lead the clinics the costs of which per person are $175 for a four-hour session (Thursday and Dec. 9), $100 for a two-hour session (Friday and Saturday) and $125 for a 45-minute private session (Dec. 10).

To register, visit www.pickleballtournaments.com or email registration@pickleballisgreat.com for questions and more information.